With 2013 wrapped up and 2014 in its infancy, it’s the perfect time to bravely predict 2014 happenings on the Outer Banks. This is all simply guesswork and speculation, but as each year winds down, it’s always interesting to think of milestones that will highlight the year ahead.
Bridges Dominate the News
The replacement of the Bonner Bridge is tied up in court, although the state did win the first round. A contract was just awarded for a bridge to replace the temporary bridge at the Irene breach, and construction is scheduled to begin almost immediately. The renovation and repairs to the outbound Wright Memorial Bridge appear to be on schedule and should be completed by May 15th, although winter storms could throw a monkey wrench in those plans. Next fall it will be the inbound span’s turn. Who knows, with all the activity around bridges, maybe the Mid-Currituck Bridge will arise from its moribund state and again become a possibility?
Beach Nourishment Projects Will Move Forward
The towns of Duck, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills have committed in principal to beach nourishment, and there is very strong public support for moving forward. It seems reasonable to expect that 2014 will be the year these projects get funded and the process officially begins.
Outer Bank Occupancy Continues to Grow
Don’t expect spectacular growth this year. The days of double digit increases are gone, but there have been consistent, incremental increases in visitation and occupancy for the past five years. However, we did see a small (but noticeable) glitch in visitation this past October during the government shutdown.
Festivals Become an Integral Part of the Outer Banks Experience
Spring: The Outer Banks Wedding Show is held on March 15th this year. With the ever growing popularity of destination weddings, brides and grooms make their way here each year to see what our area has to offer. From March 13-16th, the Outer Banks Taste of the Beach event will be held, so if you’re attending the Wedding Show.. it’s worth your time to stick around! Taste of the Beach is a four day extravaganza that’s quickly growing in size and popularity. In addition to sampling amazing local seafood, attendees will enjoy brunches, wine tasting and cooking demonstrations. March 16th is Kelly’s Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which is the perfect way to unwind with family and friends while enjoying a wildly memorable procession.
Fall: It took the success of the Duck Jazz Festival for us to fully understand the benefit of bringing off season festivals to the Outer Banks. The 8th Annual Duck Jazz Festival, held on October 12th this year, continues to attract first level talent and a few thousand attendees. The 3rd Annual Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival, scheduled for September 25-28th, 2014 is showcasing great bluegrass talents and has become a family favorite for locals and visitors. The 2nd Annual Outer Banks Seafood Festival was better attended than the first event, which shocked everyone with its initial popularity. In 2014, this event will be held on October 17-18th, so mark your calendars in advance. If you already love spending summers at the beach, you should check out our amazing weather during the shoulder seasons!